Steel Panther / Motley Crue / Def Leppard – SECC

[Flickr sets for the three acts can be found via these links: Steel Panther / Motley Crue / Def Leppard]

Steel Panther
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Three big bands, one expensive ticket… and in my view a very upside-down bill with the best band of the night opening and the weakest closing.

I missed Steel Panther a year or so ago when they played the Garage. I found out about the gig the day after they were on. Gutted. We predominantly got tickets for this shindig because they were on the bill despite it working out at over £50 per person with the booking fees. Of course, with the opening slot they only got about 40 minutes to play. And, of course, we were running late courtesy of traffic on the Squinty Bridge being rubbish for absolutely no reason and a huge queue to pick up pre-ordered tickets.

As a result, we caught maybe 30 minutes of the set. Thankfully a) what we saw was excellent and b) they’re headlining their own show at the Academy in March for which we’ve already got tickets. A large number of people were definitely there to see them (in particular the guy dressed up in a “Shocker” costume) and I think they’ve made themselves a lot of fans from this tour, too.

Let’s give them credit. They’re taking the piss out of the rock and roll lifestyle that the likes of Crue led during the 80’s and 90’s. However, they’re doing it with imagination and great musical talent, plus a desire to put on a genuinely fun show. I’m really looking forward to the gig next year.

After a surprisingly short set change, Motley Crue exploded (quite literally) onto stage with fireworks going off as the curtain dropped. I was on my way back from the bar with some overpriced soft drinks as the lot went off and I’m glad I didn’t drop anything.

Now, I’ve seen Crue twice before. The first time was at Graspop a few years back where they headlined… and were awful. Marina and I gave up after maybe three songs of flat-vocals and badly-tuned instruments. I then caught them at Sonisphere (I think) last year where there was definitely some improvement.

Motley Crue
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Tonight they put on the kind of show you’d expect from a band who’ve been doing this for so long. They’re definitely not as young as they once were, but – like Steel Panther before them – they gave it everything. For those who’ve seen them live before, there were no real surprised. Indoor fireworks, flames, explosions and part of a roller coaster stolen from an amusement park somewhere which has had Tommy Lee‘s drum kit welded to it.

One of the highlights was a blink-and-you’d-miss-it appearance by Justin Bieber… as one of the photographs displayed on the huge backdrop during “Girls, Girls, Girls“. A cheap shot, but who cares.

Although they’re not one of my favourite bands, and I really wasn’t expecting much from them Motley Crue did themselves proud and certainly entertained a sizeable crowd for ninety minutes. I reckon their stage set along accounted for 50% of the ticket price.

And so to the headliners. Def Leppard have been going for about as long as Crue and, during the Hysteria heyday, apparently went through an equivalent amount of drugs, booze and women as did their American counterparts. They had a comeback at Download last year which received rave reviews with an energetic performance. Sadly, tonight, I don’t think they pulled that off.

Def Leppard
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

The set was fine. Every song was a hit, but it was obvious even before they took to the stage that they weren’t the band of choice from the three on the bill. The crowd had visibly thinned as soon as Crue departed and those that were left began trickling out less than a third of the way through the Steel City’s finest’s set. In honesty, we only stayed as we begrudged paying over £50 per ticket only to leave early. That and Gillian and Wendi were busy perving the guitarist.

In all honesty, though, we were all bored. After half an hour or so, we were checking our watches and I was spending more time on Tweetdeck than I was on watching the show. They weren’t that great to start with, but following on from two such good acts just made it worse for them.

I just wish I’d seen Def Leppard about 20 years ago when I was really into them. This just wasn’t the right time to catch their show. For the die-hard I’m sure it was a great performance, but for those who were just there to see the rest of the bill it was somewhat disappointing.

Full marks to Joe Elliott, though, who battled his way through a sore throat. This meant the high notes just weren’t going to be hit but it’s better than cancelling. One note to the band, though. If you’re playing a city split by royalist sectarianism such as Glasgow… don’t emblazon your stage with Union flags when you walk off before your encore. There was a notable section of the crowd booing them as a result. Sad – but even sadder that it wasn’t surprising when it happened.

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Alter Bridge / Black Stone Cherry / Theory of a Deadman – Glasgow SECC

Theory of a Deadman
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

What a line-up. Three cracking bands on one ticket, only a shame that it meant an early door-time and that we missed the first half of Theory of a Deadman. What little we caught – about five or six songs – was good stuff. I enjoyed it enough to want to get tickets for their upcoming headlining show in February anyway.

After a very brief set change, Black Stone Cherry arrived to huge applause and played their way through an excellent set. Their blues-influenced rock works well on CD and is just as catchy and enjoyable live, especially coming from a band with so much charisma. I’ve never even seen pictures of the band, and they really weren’t what any of us were expecting. The guitarist and bassist look like they walked right out of recording the next Status Quo album, the drummer could pass for The Muppets‘ Animal and lead singer Chris Roberston looks like a chunky sociology teacher.

Appearances are nothing to go by and Robertson has an incredible, and fairly unique, voice. You hear him sing and you know it’s BSC you’re listening to. For a band in a support slot they owned the stage as well as any headliner, playing tracks from all three of their albums. I would say there was a toal of about one-and-a-half songs which involved the crowd taking over vocal duties. Again, not something any old support act could get away with.

Black Stone Cherry
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

For a second time that night, I found myself looking forward to seeing an act live again – this time on their March tour.

A credit to the engineers and crew saw Alter Bridge themselves take to the stage after another remarkably short delay to begin their hour-and-45-minute set. They ploughed through the opening four songs without so much as a pause for breath, covering both old and new material. The band is very much Myles Kennedy‘s baby, but the rest of the band put in every bit as much as the lead.

It was, however, Myles’ birthday and he got the rousing chorus you’d expect from the crowd.

The set covered all aspects of the band’s three albums, from the heavier rock to the solo, acoustic ballads. Note perfect for the duration, there’s no doubting their abilities as performers but I would have to give them one piece of advice – drop the wanky alternating guitar solo crap. It went on for far too long and we could have had at least one, possibly two more songs in the time it ran on for.

Alter Bridge
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Whinge over, another exhilarating performance from a top notch quartet which rounded off a superb evening of music. The three bands fit together well musically, in my ears. If you like one of the groups then the others are definitely at least worth having a listen to.

As I said earlier, the two supports have sold themselves a few more gig tickets by virtue of their performances. I can’t wait!

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Batman – LIVE!

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15:  The new Batmobile ...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I almost didn’t see this. The wonderful Gillian was going to get me tickets as a surprise after telling me it looked rubbish based on the posters. And then discovered that it was on a week earlier than she expected and had one of my facebook friends not mentioned it, would have been trying to book tickets a week after it had finished!

So, anyway…

Batman Live

I’m not sure what I was expecting as I’d deliberately kept myself in the dark. However, with one exception, all the feedback I’d had was positive. As it turns out, it was deserved.

The show runs for two 50-minute halves and includes acrobatics, tumbling, jokes, a good story, magic and incredible effects. Whoever designed the set deserves a stack of awards, as that (other than the drool-some woman who plays Poison Ivy) is the real star of the show. The stage projects out into the audience and the cast make full use of it. There are plenty of cool props, such as miniature buildings and so forth, but the most impressive permanent item is the huge digital screen.

This is used as a backdrop for every scene and the images thereon merge cleverly with the physical aspects. Doorways in the image are actual doorways for the cast (and other props) to move in and out of. The screen is also used to indicate transitions in sets with beautifully animated page-turning effects. It really is something special.

There is something in the show for everyone. Most of the well-known villains are present, fronted of course by The Joker, and our tale takes us from Batman’s beginnings to Robin‘s teaming up with him. Quite a lot to cram into a little under two hours, but it manages it without feeling rushed.

The cast are excellent, playing their parts with the right attitude dependent on their character. Many of the villains really play to the crowd in a panto-esque fashion. Feel free to boo, and to cheer Batman and Robin. The crowd watching my performance certainly did! It’s certainly more Batman & Robin than The Dark Knight as Tiff quite correctly put it. However, it manages the campness in a way that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. The stage can get away with this portrayal far better than the cinema screen could.

I found the fight scenes a little slow, showing the choreography a little too much but – hey – I’m nitpicking. There’s certainly enough going on, particularly in the larger ones with multiple combatants, to make it worthwhile seeing the show more than once so you can focus on another character. The same can be said of the circus scenes which are wonderfully busy.

Visually, though, it’s staggering. The sheer scale of the operation blew my mind. I was impressed by the end of the first half, but the best was definitely left until after the interval when things just got bigger and more impressive.

As a new way of enjoying one of the best (if not the actual best) superheroes out there, this is a top notch effort. Definitely worth the entry price and I’m very much hoping they do a sequel.

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Judas Priest / Queensryche Glasgow SECC

Judas Priest
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[79 pics of the nights in this Flickr set]

The first of two big nights at the SECC with Iron Maiden tomorrow. It’s almost like a mini-festival with comfier beds.

Tonight, though, Judas Priest with Queensryche and Rival Sons in support. We missed Rival Sons entirely and only made it in time to see maybe three songs by Queensryche. In honesty, I was never a fan and what little I saw of them was never going to sway me. They’re not bad… they just never grabbed me musically.

If memory serves, this is the third time I’ve seen Judas Priest live. The first was way back in the early 90’s on the Painkiller tour at Newcastle City Hall. I only got tickets as Annihilator were opening for them. I ended up front row for a very impressive gig by a band I knew about 3 songs by.

Next up was Graspop in 2008, coincidentally with Iron Maiden headlining one of the other nights. Here they put on a great show, but Rob Halford really looked like he was struggling.

Judas Priest
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

No such problems this evening. Once the annoying DJ stopped messing about (good music, but good grief… what a nutjob), the curtain dropped and Priest burst into life. A shame KK Downing had left the band but nobody could have any complaints about new member Richie Faulkner. Aside from being a bit younger than the rest, he fit right in and was note perfect. Well done, son.

I’ll admit to not being the biggest Priest fan. I know a couple of the really old numbers, but mainly I got into them around the time of Ram It Down. As such, I didn’t recognise some of the tracks, but it didn’t really matter. Sure, I enjoyed “Painkiller”, “Nostradamus” and “Blood Red Skies” that bit more but the show was powerful enough that even the handful of tracks I didn’t recognise were enjoyable enough.

A half dozen flash pots, some smoke stacks and a bunch of lasers were all that was needed alongside a nice big amplified rig. Halford doesn’t talk a lot to the crowd, but what he does say is nice enough – pointing out album covers, crediting the original writers of songs Priest have covered and so on. Even a drum solo towards the end didn’t dampen the crowd who really started to go mad past the halfway mark of the 2-hour show with a pit opening up. OK, so there were only about 10 people in it at the peak, but still…

Judas Priest
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Two encores rounded off the evening, and of course the highlight was Breaking The Law”. I don’t think Halford sang a word of the first verse and chorus, leaving it to the audience to make the noise.

It’s a shame this is their last ever world tour, but at least we know there’s another album on the way and live dates will be forthcoming, though not on the scale of the past. In fairness to the guys, they’re all around the sixty mark and have been doing this for an incredible forty years. I hope I have that much energy when I get there. And that my beard mysteriously gains colour like Halford’s. Seriously, why isn’t his grey? No fair.

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Taste of Chaos 2010

Disturbed’s excellent light show

[Full gallery within this Flickr set]

Saturday was a belter with a 4-band show at the Glasgow SECC. Wendi and I missed Halestorm due to public transport issues, but they were the only band we knew nothing about so it’s not the end of the world. Heard good things about them afterwards though.

Our opening band were therefore Buckcherry, who were allotted a dinky 6 tracks or so. They were fun, the sound was good and I would definitely like to see them do a full set sometime. Of course, they ended with Crazy Bitch.

Next up were Papa Roach who played a blinding set. Again, squished into a small time slot they managed to entertain a very enthusiastic crowd and crammed in pretty much everything you could want to hear from first album Infest right up to current single “Burn”. A simple light show behind the band added some nice touches to the affair and they left, sans encore, with a crowd baying for more.

Headlining were Disturbed, who took Papa Roach’s light show, multiplied it by about 20 and absolutely tore the place apart. I’m not a Disturbed “fan” as such, but I do like them and have to say I really enjoyed the set. There was a decent variety in the tracks, chief of which was their cover of Genesis’ “Land of Confusion“. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone slamming to a Phil Collins number before. First time for everything.

The sound was very good, light show staggering, crowd awesome (except for two dicks who got into a fight in the pit during Disturbed) and the security friendly and helpful. If I had a complaint it was the lack of free drinking water. £1.50 a bottle is ridiculous. If much smaller venues such as the O2 and Garage can manage it, you’d think the SECC could.

Certainly a great “taste” of the bands featured, and excellent value for money for fans of three or four of them.

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